— The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the shooting death of an Italian aid worker in this city’s diplomatic quarter. If the claim is verified, the killing on Monday night will have been the Islamic State’s first attack in Bangladesh
, a country that has been grappling this year with a series of attacks on bloggers who have written critically of Islam.
The aid worker, Cesare Tavella, 50, was shot about 6:15 p.m. as he was jogging. The police said he appeared to have been ambushed by three men who had pulled to the side of the road on a motorcycle. The men fired at Mr. Tavella at least three times before fleeing on the bike.
“We think it was a preplanned killing,” said Mohammad Abdul Ahad, a police official in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital.
According to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors radical Islamic websites, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, issued a statement later Monday claiming that a “security detachment” had tracked Mr. Tavella through the streets of Dhaka and then killed him using “silenced weapons.”
No arrests had been made, and police officials cautioned that they could not immediately confirm that the Islamic State was behind the shooting.
“We have seen news about this claim, but we will have to examine how authentic this claim is,” Muntashirul Islam, deputy commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said.
According to police officials, Mr. Tavella came to Bangladesh in May to work in Dhaka as a project manager for ICCO Cooperation, a nongovernmental organization based in the Netherlands
that works to eradicate poverty throughout South Asia. Mr. Tavella directed a project called Profitable Opportunities for Food Security, which offers business training to small farmers. In a statement, ICCO Cooperation called him a hard-working professional “committed to help the people of Bangladesh.”
On Friday, Australia’s Foreign Ministry announced that it had “reliable information to suggest that militants may be planning to target Australian interests in Bangladesh.” This prompted Australia’s cricket team to postpone a trip to the country. And on Monday, hours before Mr. Tavella’s death, the British government advised its officials in Bangladesh “to limit attendance at events where Westerners may gather.”
After the shooting, the United States Embassy in Dhaka ordered its employees to “shelter in place” for several hours and to otherwise avoid “large gatherings in Bangladesh.” It urged precautions for American citizens in the nation.
The American International School in Dhaka was closed Tuesday, and security was tightened in the diplomatic quarter.
For the Bangladeshi authorities, Mr. Tavella’s death raises the possibility that both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda are active in Bangladesh. In July, the security forces arrested the chief of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, which has said it killed Bangladeshi bloggers critical of religious extremism.